This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books they’ve read and share what they have got up to during the last week.
It’s been a while since I’ve visited – the days trickle by and I’m a bit shaken that we’re already more than halfway through February. The weather has been a lot milder since the beginning of the month, which I’m pleased about. Though we’re about to grit our teeth as our fixed rate fuel tariff finishes at the end of the month – and we will be confronted with a bill that will be nearly triple what we’re paying now. It wouldn’t be so bad if that was the only thing going up in price – but food just goes on steadily getting more expensive, as well as clothing… shoes… electronic goods… you name it!!
Half term is just coming to an end. Though Ethan has been very busy visiting universities and friends, so hasn’t been here all that much. The brilliant news is that he has had an unconditional offer from one of his top two university choices – and it will be the first time that anyone from his college course has been offered a place there. We’re so very proud of him and what he’s managed to achieve. He still has at least two more visits lined up – but now the pressure is off, so hopefully he can relax a bit and enjoy the process. Up to now, it’s been a rather nerve-wracking business!
Oscar has still been struggling with migraine headaches, so we ended up seeing his Dr. She’s prescribing some medication that is intended to actually prevent them from happening. I am so impressed with the care we’ve received from the NHS despite the pressure they’re under – and very much hope that these new tablets will prove more successful. Poor Oscar has suffered far too much since Christmas.
So far, February’s been a trudge. Himself had a shocking cold during his rest days this week, so the trip we’d planned to the Wetland and Wildfowl Trust had to be postponed. Fortunately, he’s recovered well, but we could do with a day out enjoying ourselves and relaxing. What with one thing and another – we haven’t done that since Christmas.
Thank goodness for reading – and writing. I’m now working on the third book in my Picky Eaters series – Problems with Power, charting the adventures of grumpy old Castellan the Black, a grandfather dragon who unexpectedly finds himself in the middle of family life after his grandchildren get him evicted from his lair. It has been a rather stop/start affair, given my health issues, but I am beginning to get some momentum going which makes writing so much more fun.
Last week I read:-
Delicious Death – Book 2 of the Madame Chalamet Ghost Mysteries by Byrd Nash
Thwarting an assassination wasn’t on the menu. Elinor’s holiday is ruined when a poisoner targets a royal guest. What’s even more irritating? The duke thinks he can solve the case before she can.
In the southern town of Vouvant, Elinor’s goal was to eat rich food at the Winter Revels, but an attempt on the king’s life implicates her favorite chef. Between saving a young society lady and solving the problem of a widower who grieves too much, she has her hands full.
Trained as a medium by the elite Morpheus Society, Elinor Chalamet uses her skills to aid the police while she hunts for her father’s killer.
The second of a six part gaslamp fantasy ghost mystery series featuring a strong female character in a slow burn romance.
I thoroughly enjoy Nash’s writing – so finding this entertaining series was a huge treat. The protagonist is experienced and sure of herself, which is a nice change from all those youngsters rather desperately flailing around, trying to work out who they are while grappling with hidden magical talents. There is a nice sprinkling of humour and the slow-burn romance is well handled. All in all, a solid treat. 9/10
Darkwood – Book 1 of the Darkwood series by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch
Magic is forbidden in Myrsina, along with various other abominations, such as girls doing maths.
This is bad news for Gretel Mudd, who doesn’t perform magic, but does know a lot of maths. When the sinister masked Huntsmen accuse Gretel of witchcraft, she is forced to flee into the neighbouring Darkwood, where witches and monsters dwell.
There, she happens upon Buttercup, a witch who can’t help turning things into gingerbread, Jack Trott, who can make plants grow at will, the White Knight with her band of dwarves and a talking spider called Trevor. These aren’t the terrifying villains she’s been warned about all her life. They’re actually quite nice. Well… most of them.
With the Huntsmen on the warpath, Gretel must act fast to save both the Darkwood and her home village, while unravelling the rhetoric and lies that have demonised magical beings for far too long.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Gretel and her brother, Hansel, are enjoyable protagonists, as are Buttercup and the White Knight – although my favourite has to be Trevor the talking spider. The humour is unforced and funny – and rides alongside the real danger hanging over the villagers of Nearby village so that I burned through this one, really caring about the characters. It is a joy. I’m always a bit wary of humorous fantasy, as Terry Pratchett has cast a very long shadow over the genre and I’ve read far too many paler imitations. The real disgust at political hypocrisy and lust for power that also runs through Pratchett’s work rang through this one without spoiling the story. I’m really looking forward to reading the next two in the series and finding out what happens next to Darkwood and its inhabitants. 9/10
Before I Sleep – Book 24 of the Bill Slider series by Cynthia Harrod Eagles
The clock is ticking for DCI Slider when a woman goes missing. Can he find her – and does she even want to be found?
Felicity Holland is missing. She left her handsome West London house to go to her weekly pottery class and didn’t come back. She’s a mature, sensible woman with a stable home life and a happy marriage – no reason to abscond. Her distraught husband is convinced she must have been snatched.
DCI Bill Slider and his team know that when a woman goes missing, you have to move fast if there’s to be a hope of finding her alive. But with no evidence of foul play – nothing to go on at all – where do you even start looking?
The clock is ticking. But as Slider tries to retrace the last known movements of Felicity Holland, he is led ever further down a dark and twisted path into the secret past of this beautiful, enigmatic woman.
This is a cracking police procedural that starts with almost a non-event. A well-known writer insists his wife has disappeared and DCI Bill Slider is put on the case before she’s even officially missing. But as he and his team get stuck in, a picture builds up of a lovely, vibrant person who I really cared about. I’ll remember this one for a long time… Review to follow. 1010
AUDIOBOOK – Zahara’s Gift – Book 1 of the Bond of a Dragon series by A.J. Walker
Nineteen-year-old Anders lived a fairly normal life until the only family he had was taken away from him. When he finds himself forced to embark on an action packed adventure, he discovers there is more to the world than he was told. The magical force that flows within everything around him becomes revealed. Dragons, elves, orcs, and goblins lurk around nearly every turn along the path as he pursues his two kidnapped cousins.
As Anders discovers more about his family’s past, he learns of their involvement in The War of The Magicians and the circumstances leading up to the attack of his hometown. When Anders is told about his potential involvement in a prophecy involving dragons and their powerful magic, he will need to make a difficult decision. Will he continue to follow the path that is laid out for him or can he make his own destiny? Will he ever be reunited with his family again? And if he succeeds, will he ever be able to return to the life he once knew?
The plotting and character progression worked well. But I found the dialogue rather clunky and unrealistic – and when listening to an audiobook, that can be trying. It was never bad enough that I was tempted to DNF, but I’m not in a hurry to tuck into the second book. 7/10
My posts last week:
Review of NETGALLEY NOVELLA Delicious Death – Book 2 of the Madame Chalamet Ghost Mysteries by Byrd Nash
Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring One Extra Corpse – Book 2 of the Silver Screen Historical Mystery series by Barbara Hambly
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* The Luminaires – Book 1 of The Luminaries series by Susan Dennard
Hope you, too, had some brilliant books to tuck into and wishing you all a happy, healthy week😊.